Tangled (2010)


Disney's 50th feature-length animated movie is their best in many years. Tangled recaptures the charm, humor, and spirit of the studio's second renaissance, the late 80s/early 90s period that saw such hits as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Quite simply, I laughed and I cried, thoroughly engaged with the characters and the storytelling. And when I thought I had Tangled figured out, it gave me a couple of twists and some welcome sophistication. Touche, John Lasseter, touche.

I can’t help but think Lasseter (the founder of Pixar, now also in charge of Disney Animation) had a lot to do with my enjoyment of this film. Like most Pixar films, Tangled blows the dust off an old tale and breathes new life into it. I’ve seen this story before (I was struck most by similarities to Romancing the Stone), and yet it unfolded before me anew. I also appreciate the fact that the film’s dual protagonists, Rapunzel and Flynn (voiced by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi), are an egalitarian couple who take turns saving each other and the day. Some of the musical numbers tried my patience (a humorous tavern song is a notable exception), but there aren’t enough tunes to sink the movie. And you know those annoying, cutesy animal side-kicks that Disney can never let go of? This time we get a judgmental chameleon named Pascal and a surly steed named Maximus, and I love them both.

And though it’s old-fashioned at its core, Tangled is also an impressive first: it’s the very fist time I’ve ever seen the gorgeous qualities of classical Disney 2D animation translate successfully to 3D. Under Glenn Keane’s supervision, the character design and animation in Tangled soars. The backgrounds and color palettes are as painterly-looking as, well, paintings! Computers are the new paintbrush, but at Pixar (and now returning to Disney) beauty and craftsmanship are still the ultimate goal.

Other vocal performances include Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, and Brad Garrett.

Oscar Nomination: Best Song (“I See the Light”)


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